TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES – AUGUST 28, 2006

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the municipal Building on August 28, 2006.  Chairman Pazdera called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.

 

Those present:

 

Planning Commission:   John Pazdera, Chairman

                                                Dean Dickson, Vice Chairman

                                                Tony Bush, Secretary

                                                Richard Cylinder, Member

                                                Karen Friedman, Member

 

Others:                                     Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection, & Planning

                                                John Donaghy, Township Solicitor

                                                James Majewski, Township Engineer

                                                Steve Santarsiero, Supervisor (joined meeting in progress)

 

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

Ms. Friedman moved, Mr. Dickson seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve the Minutes of July 24, 2006 as corrected.

 

 

#562-A – HARMONY LANE PRELIMINARY PLAN DISCUSSION

 

Mr. Edward Murphy, attorney, was present with Mr. John Baionno, engineer. 

Mr. Murphy stated there have been previous discussions on the project where they

discussed a number of alternatives.  He stated the property is slightly less than fifteen

acres, largely wooded, and has frontage on Dogwood Drive.  He stated the prior

discussion focused on public sewer and water and what could be done to maximize

developer participation and minimize natural resource disturbance.  In early 2005 a

Sketch Plan was proposed which had depicted intrusion in the wooded area.  He stated

initially the route of the sewer line was through the center of the open space; and the

Planning Commission indicated if natural resource disturbance could be minimized, they

would support public sewer and water to the site although they were uncomfortable with

recommending the initial Plan with the extent of disturbance shown.  The Board of

Supervisors agreed with the Planning Commission; and in late summer, 2005, the Board

directed the sewer consultant to consider an alternate route for public sewers attempting

to minimize the amount of natural resource disturbance.   Mr. Murphy stated they

appeared again before the Board of Supervisors in October, 2005 and presented an

August 28, 2006                                                           Planning Commission – page 2 of 27

 

 

alternate Plan which is consistent with the Plan that was ultimately engineered and

submitted to the Township and is before the Planning Commission this evening.  He

noted the Plan shown this evening which identifies the future route of both the extension

of public water and public sewer, both of which emanate from the Chanticleer project

which is proposed to be constructed to the North. 

 

Mr. Santarsiero joined the meeting at this time.

 

Mr. Baionno stated they propose to tie the sanitary sewer system for this development

into the Chanticleer pumping station, run it approximately 700 feet to the south, tie into a

cul-de-sac at the end of Dogwood Drive which they will construct, provide sanitary sewer

along Dogwood Drive and south to the proposed Harmony Lane cul-de-sac extending

south to their southerly boundary.  He stated from that point on, the Township in the

future can connect into the sanitary sewer system.  He stated this will serve the remaining

residents along Delaware Rim Drive that currently have septic.  He stated there is also a

main which can be extended on the western side of the proposed development which

could serve additional residents along Sunnyside Lane and Spur Road. 

 

Mr. Baionno stated there is no public water in the area, but the developer will extend the

Chanticleer system southerly to Delaware Rim Drive, turn westerly onto Dogwood Drive

which can provide service for the existing residents in the area and the proposed

development’s cul-de-sac.  He stated this can also be extended through the same

woodlands corridor as the sanitary sewer to serve the residents on Spur Drive.  He stated

the water main can also be extended along Delaware Rim Drive to the south.

 

Mr. Murphy stated the Plan just described was the Plan which the Board of Supervisors

indicated in October that they were more comfortable with than the original proposal, and

this is the Plan that has now been engineered. 

 

Mr. Murphy stated they also would like to discuss this evening a few of the comments in

the Schoor DePalma review letter dated 7/17/06.  He stated the first four paragraphs

describe the Variances which would be required of the Zoning Hearing Board in order to

implement the Plans proposed.  He stated they will still have to disturb natural resources

at a higher percentage than currently permitted by the Ordinance although it is less than

would have been required on the original Plan.  Mr. Murphy stated they will submit an

Application to the Zoning Haring Board for the required relief.  He stated this is

consistent with what was discussed with the Board of Supervisors at the Sketch Plan

stage. 

 

Mr. Murphy stated Item #4 is related to natural resource disturbance but deals with a

different area of the site and relates to lot size, how the lot size was measured, and how

much disturbance occurs on the lots.

 

August 28, 2006                                                           Planning Commission – page 3 of 27

 

 

Mr. Cylinder noted this is the first time he has seen the Plan and asked if they are only

considering water and sewer lines and if the rest of the Plan has been approved.

Mr. Murphy noted no part of the Plan has been approved.  Mr. Cylinder questioned why

they began the discussion with water and sewer.  Mr.  Murphy stated they were

highlighting the areas for which they are going to seek relief.  Mr. Cylinder stated he

feels they should discuss the entire Plan first.  Mr. Murphy stated they have discussed the

project for a year and a half with the Township.  He stated the Sketch Plan was reviewed

and favorably commented upon last year with the Plan being shown this evening.

 

Mr. Cylinder noted the green on the Plan and asked what they represent.  Mr. Baionno

stated the dark green represents woodlands which will remain on the site.  He noted the

bulk of the site is currently wooded, and the portions not wooded include small portions

along the gas line.  Mr. Cylinder asked about the maturity of the woods, and Mr. Baionno

stated they are mainly mature woods.  Mr. Baionno stated the lighter green is what will

be converted to lawn including the detention basin.  The houses are shown in brown.  He

stated they are trying to maintain as much of the wooded area as close to the house as

possible. 

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if there is a Grading Plan, and Mr. Baionno stated the Grading Plan

was submitted to the Township in May.  Mr. Murphy stated they have received initial

review letters from the various Boards and Commissions in the Township; and this

evening they only wanted to discuss a few items before they further revised the Plans. 

 

Mr. Baionno stated the lot areas shown on the Plan are 18,000 to 22,000 square feet. The

cleared area including the driveways and the homes average 7,000 to 8,000 square feet of

disturbance as they are trying to minimize woodland disturbance.  He stated the Zoning

Ordinance requires a net cleared area of 12,500 square feet; and to do this and provide a

large, more usable rear yard, they would have to disturb more trees.   He stated they are

trying to reduce the amount of clearing and clear only what they need to build the house

and the driveway.  They recognize that these will be wooded lots.

 

Mr. Murphy stated this was also discussed during the Sketch Plan process last year, and

both the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors felt they should maximize the

amount of trees that could be preserved, and this will require relief to permit them to

disturb fewer trees and not provide a minimum net lot area that was entirely absent of

natural resources. 

 

Ms. Friedman asked the percentage of the difference from the original sewer plan

proposed and the impact on the wetlands compared to what is now proposed.

Mr. Baionno stated he did not have this information available this evening, and

Mr. Murphy stated they will provide this.  He stated previously there was a thirty to forty

foot wide swath running through the center of the site. 

 

August 28, 2006                                                           Planning Commission – page 4 of 27

 

Mr. Murphy noted paragraph twenty-five of the Schoor DePlama letter and stated

Mr. Majewski is looking for direction as to what elements of the Low Impact

Development practices, the Board would like to see implemented on this Plan.

Mr. Majewski had specifically identified four separate possible impacts that they could

lessen.  He noted one is the width of both Dogwood Lane and Harmony Lane.

 

Mr. Baionno stated currently they are showing what is required by the Ordinance which

is a cartway width of thirty-six feet for Harmony Lane, the new road.   He stated

Dogwood Drive is currently partially improved on the north side, and they are proposing

a full cross-section on the developer’s side as well as widen, repave, and curb both sides. 

This is currently proposed to be thirty-three feet wide.  He stated they also propose, as

required by Ordinance, to have sidewalks along the entire development frontage, and

both sides of the cul-de-sac.  He stated they are also proposing sidewalks on the south

side of Dogwood Drive along the frontage, but not along the north side of Dogwood

Drive.  He stated this will be a low-traveled road as there are only ten new units.  He

stated they could reduce the cartway width four feet on either side and still have a safe

travel zone on Harmony Lane.  He stated for Dogwood Drive, they could reduce it three

feet on either side.  He stated the proposed driveways are deeper driveways which are

sufficient to park three to four cars and it would be rare for cars to be parking on the

streets unless there was a party.    Mr. Murphy stated they would like the Planning

Commission to consider what they would like to see the cartway reduced to.

 

Mr. Cylinder asked about the width of the sidewalks, and Mr. Murphy stated they would

be four feet.  Mr. Cylinder asked the width of the grass strip between the sidewalk and

the curb, and Mr. Baionno stated this is also four feet wide.  Mr. Cylinder suggested that

they keep the sidewalks as shown, reduce the cartway width, and increase the width of

the grass strip.  Mr. Murphy stated they would be willing to follow the recommendation

of the Township.

 

Mr. Pazdera stated he feels they could eliminate the sidewalks on the developer’s side

going around the cul-de-sac. 

 

Mr. Majewski stated the existing Delaware Rim Drive and other roads adjacent to the

property are twenty-six feet wide.  He stated in the proposed Low Impact Development

Ordinance, they are proposing to have all new roads be twenty-six feet wide.  He feels it

would be good to maintain the twenty-six feet width so that they are consistent.   He

stated they could also plant an island in the middle of the cul-de-sac to drain some of the

water. 

 

Ms. Friedman asked if a pervious street surface would be something to consider in this instance since this area will not be highly traveled.  Mr. Majewski stated he does not feel this should be done on a traveled road. 

 

The Planning Commission was in favor of a twenty-six foot wide cartway.

August 28, 2006                                                           Planning Commission – page 5 of 27

 

 

Mr. Cylinder asked about the grass circle, and Mr. Baionno stated he feels they could

have a ten foot radius grass bulb in the center, and this would permit trucks to make the

full circle. 

 

There was discussion on sidewalks, and Mr. Murphy stated he assumes the Township

would want these on both sides of the new internal street but eliminate them going west

exiting the site to the cul-de-sac and across the top.  Mr. Baionno asked if the Planning

Commission would be in favor of sidewalks along the developer’s frontage on Dogwood

Drive.  Mr. Cylinder asked where this would lead to, and Mr. Baionno stated there are no

other sidewalks in this area.  Delaware Rim Drive does not have sidewalks. 

Mr. Majewski stated the proposed development along the end of Delaware Rim Drive to

the north will have sidewalks extending to the property line which will be approximately

250’ away from Dogwood Drive.  This goes to the cul-de-sac. 

 

Ms. Friedman stated she would be in favor of eliminating all sidewalks and make this

have more of a Village look since there are only ten homes.    Ms. Friedman stated they

could also eliminate the curbing and allow all the drainage to go into the front of the

properties.  Mr. Murphy stated they could also do roadside swales instead of curbs.

Mr. Bush asked if the existing Delaware Rim has curbs, and Mr. Majewski stated it does.

Mr. Cylinder asked if there will be problems if they do not have curbs, and

Mr. Majewski stated if designed properly with sufficient room to have an adequate swale

that will not fill in with sediment over time, a roadside swale will function properly.

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if widening the grass strip between the sidewalk and the street would

help, and Mr. Majewski stated it would.  Mr. Cylinder asked if they could then reduce the

size of the drainage basin, and Mr. Baionno stated they could look at this depending on

how much impervious surface they take away.  Mr. Cylinder asked if they have

considered how else the drainage basin could be used when it is not carrying water.

Mr. Baionno stated it will be graded fairly flat in the bottom and could be used for

recreation during dry times. 

 

Mr. Majewski stated they will have to comply with the Delaware Rive South Stormwater

Management Plan and do soil logs to determine permeability.  He stated it is possible that

the detention basin could be reduced in size or eliminated depending on the amount of

water that eventually needs to be detained.  Mr. Cylinder stated he would like to see it

eliminated or used for some other purpose when not wet, if it cannot be totally

eliminated.  Mr. Murphy stated they will discuss this further with Mr. Majewski.

 

The Planning Commission was in agreement with the elimination of sidewalks and curbs.

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if the Township allows swales, is there any way to stop people from

parking in this area and stirring up mud such as the use of cobblestones, etc. 

Mr. Majewski stated this is a concern if there are not curbs since people can then park in

August 28, 2006                                                           Planning Commission – page 6 of 27

 

 

the grass area adjacent to the road.  Mr. Cylinder noted he has cobblestones in front of his

home and you can park on the cobblestones, and it does not impede the flow of water. 

He noted the snow plows also go up onto the grass if there are not curbs.  Mr. Majewski

stated there are grass pavers, but this would not stop someone from parking up onto the

grass beyond this.  He stated a twenty-fix foot wide road is adequate to allow cars to park

and also get around.  Mr. Cylinder stated people also park with two wheels on the road

and two off the road.  Mr. Majewski stated they could consider stabilizing the edge of the

pavement with grass pavers for a foot on either side.  Mr. Murphy stated they would

agree to work further on this with Mr. Majewski.

 

Mr. Frank Fazzalore, 23 Delaware Rim Drive, stated when this came before the Board of

Supervisors last year, they indicated that there was a bank behind four to seven homes,

and they indicated it would remain.  Mr. Baionno stated this will still remain. 

Mr. Fazzalore stated he has lived in this area for twenty-seven years and has never had

water in his basement.  He stated he does not have a sump pump.  He is concerned that

disturbance of the wooded area which currently absorbs the water, will result in water in

his basement, which is a finished basement.  He asked who will protect the existing

homeowners.  He stated any disturbance of the woods will cause problems. He suggested

that in this case, they do what was done when the Township constructed the Golf Course

where the Township guaranteed the residents who lived on Delaware Rim and

Sunnyvale that if there was an impact on their wells, the Township would take care of

this problem.  He suggested that if the existing residents get water in their basements

within the next five years after development of this tract, someone other than the

residents should be responsible.  Mr. Fazzalore stated the developer discussed tapping

into Chanticleer for sewer and water, but noted that since they have not yet started

construction of Chanticleer, he assumes this development cannot start either, and

Mr. Murphy agreed.   Mr. Fazzalore stated during the last heavy rains in the Township,

he did not see water in any of the existing basins, and he does not feel the basins are

functioning.  He stated because of the flooding in the Township, he feels there should be

a moratorium on all building.

 

Ms. Gloria Asterino, 25 Delaware Rim Drive, stated she had problems with her well after

the Golf Course was constructed.  She stated in the back by the mound when it rains hard,

the water does stay in that area, and she is also concerned about getting water in her

basement.  Mr. Baionno stated there is a low spot on the easterly side of the berm where

water could sit but does eventually percolate in.  This is in the wooded area and will not

be disturbed.  They are on the opposite side of the mound and disturbing the lower half of

the down side slope away from the existing homes.

 

Mr. Murphy stated Mr. Fazzalore’s observation about the detention basins not having

water in them is exactly the condition that the DEP acknowledged and which is why they

are doing best management practices.  He stated this is occurring throughout Bucks

County, and they are getting away from basins and trying to do more infiltration and

August 28, 2006                                                           Planning Commission – page 7 of 27

 

 

percolation into the groundwater so that hopefully they can eliminate the needless clear

cutting of the wood and try to do something that is more environmentally sound.

 

Mr. Geoffrey Goll of the EAC suggested they reinforce the detention basin if it is still

needed so that they minimize the impact on the clearing.  He also suggested that there be

a vegetated area in the center and have a rain garden if possible.  Mr. Goll noted the

proximity of the woodlands so close to the houses, and asked how this will be deed

restricted so the residents do not install decks, pools, etc.  Mr. Majewski stated he is also

concerned with the Plan showing woodlands ten feet off the house; and this is why they

state in the Zoning Ordinance that the building setbacks are measured from the resource

restricted land so that there is a clear area so homeowners can install a pool, deck,

swings, etc.  He stated in this instance the rear setback is forty feet so there will be a forty

foot cleared area behind the house.  He stated if they are seeking to obtain thirty foot

relief from the forty foot setback, he feels this is too much.  Mr. Murphy stated this is one

of the comments in Mr. Majewski’s review, and they are trying to come up with a

balance although they did not want to needlessly clear the trees.

 

Mr. Bush asked about the developer’s understanding of the timing for public water and sewer from Chanticleer.  Mr. Murphy stated he understands that they are trying to start this development and if this is the case, the water and sewer infrastructure will be in before the time that the Harmony Lane Plan is approved and ready to proceed. 

 

Mr. Fazzalore stated Delaware Rim is only 26’ wide, and they will now have construction

trucks coming down the 26’ wide street.  He stated if there is parking on both sides of the

street, it is difficult to get thorough.  He asked if they should consider restricting parking

on one side only during construction.  He also asked about dirt, etc. on the road during

construction.  Mr. Majewski stated this is the developer’s responsibility.  He noted at the

entrance of the site, they are required to have stone tracking pads to get mud off the tires. 

They may also need a tire cleaning area and to sweep the roads on a regular basis as well.

 

Mr. John Mudgett, 17 Delaware Rim Drive, stated his home is at the lower end of 

Delaware Rim, and he does get some water in his basement in severe rain conditions.  He

also had a minor problem with his well after the Golf Course was constructed.  He stated

he feels what is proposed is an unimaginative plan. 

 

Mr. Jeff Vogel, 12 Dogwood Drive, stated currently the road is not deeded back and

asked if it will be reconstructed after all the construction is done.  He stated the road will

not withstand construction vehicles.  Mr. Baionno stated it will need to be reconstructed

early on.  Mr. Murphy stated the Township engineer will establish the construction

sequence.  Mr. Majewski stated the Township requires that when you abut an existing

road and propose to build along it, core samples must be taken to determine the

composition of the road.  He stated in this case, he would recommend it because he is not

sure how the road was constructed; and he is concerned  that whatever they do, they must

August 28, 2006                                                           Planning Commission – page 8 of 27

 

 

make sure the road is in good repair before it is turned over to the Township.  Mr. Vogel

stated even before it is turned over to the Township, they do not want it to be a hazard. 

Mr. Vogel noted the sewer tie-in to Chanticleer and stated this is against his property and

there is a creek, the area is heavily-wooded, and there is a wetlands.  He asked how large

the swath will be for the sewer line.  Mr. Baionno stated they will have as minimal

disturbance as possible.  He stated they will have a thirty foot easement as required by the

Sewer Authority.  It will be a gravity system and will follow the creek bed.  They will tie

into the new pump station at Chanticleer.  Mr. Vogel noted the bottom of the street and

stated he has had to repeatedly grade his property because there is uncontrolled water in

the area.  Mr. Baionno stated this water will be contained now and all run off will be

controlled into the basin  He stated there will be a storm sewer pipe on both sides. 

Mr. Vogel stated he is concerned with the twenty-six foot wide streets and stated if there

are cars parked on both sides, you cannot get a fire truck down the street.  Ms. Asterino

stated she had a fire at her home at 2:00 a.m. and they had to turn around and cars were

parked on only one side of the street, and if was very difficult for them.  Mr. Vogel stated

since they are proposing ten houses in this development and twelve at Chanticleer, there

will probably be forty-four additional cars coming down the street and he is concerned

with the safety of the children if there are no curbs or sidewalks.

 

Mr. Goll asked if there is a stream on the property, and Mr. Baionno noted its location on

the Plan.  Mr. Goll stated the Delaware South Plan calls for a 150’ buffer from a natural

stream. 

 

Mr. Patrick Frain, 16 Delaware Rim Drive, stated he feels the people on the other side

should be notified of the meetings as it does concern all the residents of Delaware Rim. 

Ms. Frick asked that she be provided with the addresses, and she would add them to the

list.  Mr. Frain stated he feels everyone who will be impacted on Delaware Rim should be

added to the list.  Mr. Santarsiero agreed that this will be done.

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if they are proposing to have a thirty foot wide swath in the woods

when they install the sewer pipe, and Mr. Murphy stated a thirty foot easement is

required by the Township.  He stated the developer was asked to minimize disturbance

and intrusion; and if the Township would support a lesser easement width, they would be

willing to comply.  Mr. Cylinder stated he is not concerned with the easement but rather

how much they are cutting.  Mr. Murphy stated this is up to the Township to advise the

developer what they want them to do, but the Township does need to be able to access it

to maintain it if necessary.

 

 

#555 – FIORELLO GROVE – PRELIMINARY PLAN APPROVAL

 

Mr. Henry VanBlunk, attorney, and Mr. Joe Marrazzo were present.  Mr. VanBlunk

stated at a previous meeting, Mr. Majewski suggested that they do some additional test

August 28, 2006                                                           Planning Commission – page 9 of 27

 

 

pits as there were concerns about the water on the property.  After the test pits were done,

they were re-submitted; and they are now requesting Preliminary Plan approval.

 

The 7/17/07 Schoor DePalma review letter was noted.  Mr. VanBlunk stated they will

comply with Items #1 through #6C.

 

Ms. Friedman asked the result of the test pits, and Mr. VanBlunk stated the ground does

not perc and the soils are clay so that water that was sitting in the old pits was rainwater

which did not sink in nor did it come back up.  Mr. Majewski stated when they had dug

the test pits because of the high clay content, they basically sealed up the hole so that any

rainwater that got in could not get out.  He stated when they construct the project, they

will have to make sure that they take all appropriate measures to insure that this will not

be an issue.  This is why he had requested that they raise all the houses up several feet so

that they are further away from any groundwater. 

 

Item #7 was noted and Mr. VanBlunk stated it appears that because they are going to

require that the ultimate homeowner will have limitations on how much additional

impervious surface they can add, the Township feels they need to request a Waiver for

this, although he does not agree that this is a Waiver request.  Mr. Majewski stated it is

definitely a Waiver request.  He stated since they have a large lot size, even though they

are not disturbing much of the area, they are required to base their stormwater

calculations on the maximum that someone could build on.  Mr. Cylinder asked if they

could put a Deed Restriction on the property, and Mr. Majewski stated they are proposing

to do this.  Mr. Majewski stated they still need a Waiver from this provision of the

Ordinance.  He stated it must also be spelled out and put on the Record Plan so that

people going forward know exactly what their limits are and that they are limited to

possibly an additional 2,000 square feet of impervious surface.    Mr. VanBlunk stated

they will submit this Waiver request in writing. 

 

Mr. Donaghy asked as part of the Waiver request if they will provide evidence to the

Township how they propose to place limits on the future homeowners.  Mr. VanBlunk

stated their proposal was to do a Deed Restriction and to note it on the Plan. 

Mr. Donaghy stated they need to be very specific as to the nature of the restrictions and

the enforceability by the Township.  Ms. Frick stated people often do not see the Deed

when it is a resale until after the fact.  Mr. Donaghy stated he wants to insure that it is

clear as to the enforceability of the Township.  Mr. VanBlunk agreed to work with

Mr. Donaghy on whatever language he feels is appropriate. 

 

Mr. Bush noted the existing dwelling on Derbyshire Road where there are flooding

problems and asked the impact the construction of the home on Lot #1 will have on that

property.  Mr. VanBlunk stated the site will be graded so that it flows into the detention

basin beforehand.  He feels the existing home’s condition will be improvement. 

 

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 10 of 27

 

 

Mr. Majewski noted his comment #5 which requires them to put Notes on the Plan to

show that the roof leaders from the new home to be built on Lot #1 will go away from

that existing property.  He does not feel it will improve the situation, but does not feel it

will make the situation worse.

 

Mr. Friedman noted Lot #1 which has a rear yard very close to the detention basin.  She

added that they had prior discussions about rear yards for this development, and by

comparing the Plans, she does not see that there is anything different, and she is still

concerned about the size of the rear yards.  Mr. VanBlunk noted Sheet #4 of the Plans. 

Mr. Majewski stated the rear yard for Lot # 1 will only be thirty-five feet.

Mr. Majewski stated they indicated that they will install signs that indicate that this is

natural resource protection land.    Mr. Majewski stated this is why the Township has the

requirement that building setbacks be measured from the natural resource protected land

so that the homeowner does have an area cleared where they could install a patio, pool,

etc.   

 

Mr. Bush asked if there is anything else that the developer can do to protect the existing

home on Derbyshire Road apart from directing the rain spouts for the new Lot #1 away

from that dwelling.  Mr. Majewski stated they are also diverting some of the water away

from that house.  Mr. Bush stated there is visible water in the front and rear of the

existing home, and he does not want to make the situation worse with this project.

 

Mr. Dickson stated he is  concerned with future enforcement as they are aware that

people do make modifications to their properties.  Mr. Donaghy stated they could require

them to draw up documentation and restrictions of record that will be enforceable. 

Mr. Donaghy stated it is still possible the homeowner could make improvements without

obtaining a Permit.  Ms. Friedman asked if it would be possible to include the EAC in the

process where homeowners want to make an improvement as they could assess it from

stormwater management and environmental issues relating to the development. 

Mr. Majewski stated the EAC could be involved in educating the general public, but on

an individual lot-by-lot basis, he does not see how they could be involved.

 

Mr. Dickson moved and Mr. Pazdera seconded to recommend to the Board of

Supervisors approval of the Preliminary Plan as submitted, Plans dated 7/7/05, last

revised 6/26/06 subject to the comments in the Schoor DePalma review letter dated

7/17/06 and preparing a Deed Restriction satisfactory to the Township solicitor prior to

the Applicant requesting the Waiver from the Board of Supervisors in accordance with

Paragraph 7 in the 7/17/06 letter referenced above.

 

Mr. Goll asked if they are indicating that they will have a resource protection requirement

for the project, but there is no way that it can be enforced.   Mr. Donaghy stated this is

incorrect.  He stated if the Board of Supervisors were to grant the Waiver in calculating

the impervious surface, the homeowners would be restricted to not placing greater

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 11 of 27

 

 

percentage of impervious surface on their site than the amounts that are mentioned on the

plans.  They are discussing the means of enforcing that limitation.  Mr. Goll asked if they

will have an allotment for patios, etc.  Mr. Donaghy stated there is a specific percentage

for each lot of impervious surface and there is some room on the lot depending on what

they want to put on the lot.  Mr. Majewski stated they are providing a reasonable amount

to accommodate patios, decks, pool, etc. provided they are of a reasonable size.

The homeowners will be required to obtain a Building Permit for any improvement. 

 

Motion carried with Mr. Dickson, Ms. Friedman, and Mr. Pazdera in favor, Mr. Bush

opposed, and Mr. Cylinder abstained.

 

 

#335M – OCTAGON CENTER PRELIMINARY/FINAL PLAN DISCUSSION

 

Mr. Jeffrey Garton was present representing the Township as the Township solicitor, and

Mr. Christopher Fazio was present representing the Township as the Township engineer.

 

Mr. Marc Brookman, attorney, Mr. Russell Tepper, and Mr. Chris Burkett were present

representing Matrix. 

 

Mr. Garton stated this property was the subject of a Master Plan entered into between the

Township and Bellemead in 1988 which provided for the design of a substantial

development to take place at the property located off of Big Oak Road in the vicinity of

the Kohl’s Shopping Center.  At that time, the design indicated that the uses were

primarily office.  The developer, Bellemead, tried to find a major developer; but nothing

came to fruition.  In December, 2000, the Board of Supervisors approved certain

amendments to the Master Plan related to a portion of the tract located in Lower

Makefield Township.  The uses proposed were primarily large retail uses, a hotel, small

retail, and some office space.  Following that approval, Land Development approvals

followed.  Appeals were filed by various individuals and groups including Dana Weyrick

and Residents Against Matrix (RAM).  Those Appeals made their way through the

Courts.  During the time of the Appeal, discussions took place between representatives of

the Township, the developer, Dana Weyrick, and RAM all of which resulted in the

approval earlier this year of a Settlement Agreement between those parties.  Late last year

the Township approved an Ordinance Amendment permitting age-qualified housing

within the C-2 and C-3 Zoning Districts. 

 

Mr. Garton stated the Settlement Agreement approved a Concept Plan which depicted the

general development of the site.  It provided that there would be no more than 600

residential units to be divided approximately one third single-family dwellings, one-third

townhouses, and one-this multi-family housing all of which would be age-           qualified

housing.  There was also proposed some limited retail and office uses.  Mr. Garton stated

 

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 12 of 27

 

 

as part of the Agreement which took place after public discussion and approval by the

Board of Supervisors, the Township agreed that they would grant Waivers from the

SALDO if those Waivers did not adversely affect the health, safety, and welfare of the

Township and its residents.  Mr. Garton stated it also provided that the Township

consultants would review the plans when submitted, make recommendations, and

assuming that those recommendations did not adversely affect the yield, the developer

agreed to make those changes.  Mr. Garton stated there was also a process included in the

Settlement Agreement that if in fact a change had that impact; but it was felt it was

necessary in order to assuage the needs of the Township and its residents, there was a

process for resolving that dispute. 

 

Mr. Garton stated the Plan as submitted provides for 177 single-family dwellings, 180

townhouses, and 165 multi-family housing, all of which are age-qualified.  Mr. Garton

stated the current phase does not show the limited retail and office space.  Mr. Garton

stated a number of reports have been received including a report from Remington

Vernick dated 8/19/06, a report from the Fire Marshall dated 8/23/06, and a report from

the Police Department dated 8/14/06.  Last Friday a letter was received from the

developer’s engineer with a list of Waivers, all of which arose from the discussions

which took place between the developer’s engineer and the Township’s consultants.

 

Mr. Marc Brookman stated the Plan shows 522 dwelling units which is below that which

the Settlement Agreement permitted the developer to place on the land.

 

Mr. Russell Tepper showed on the easel the project as proposed for the entire project, a

portion of which is in Lower Makefield.  He noted Big Oak Road bi-sects a majority of the property and old Oxford Valley Road separates a future retail development from a

portion of the proposed residential community.  He stated there are multiple access points

into the project.  He showed the location of the proposed single-family detached

residential units on the northern portion of the project primarily accessed off of Oxford

Valley Road and Tall Pines Road.  He showed the location of proposed multi-family

residential which is accessed off of Big Oak Road, and single-family attached residential

on the south side of Big Oak.  He showed an open space parcel to the east of the

townhouse portion of the development, west of old Oxford Valley Road, a future office

development parcel to the north of Big Oak Road between wetlands and Big Oak Road, 

and a future retail area. 

 

Mr. Tepper stated a number of road improvements will be constructed along Oxford

Valley Road and Big Oak Road.  He stated this includes intersection improvements at

Big Oak and Oxford Valley Roads where additional turning lanes are provided. 

Improvements are also proposed at Tall Pines and Oxford Valley Roads and some other

intersections along Big Oak Road including old Oxford Valley Road.  He stated current

old Oxford Valley Road exists 150 feet to the east of where it is being proposed, and they

are moving it to the west to provide additional space between it and Oxford Valley Road.

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 13 of 27

 

 

He stated Big Oak Road will become a three-lane road with a center turning lane and

right and left turn dedicated lanes with shoulders on either side of the road for safety

purposes. 

 

Mr. Tepper stated the project has been designed to incorporate all of the Code

requirements of the Age-Qualified Zoning Ordinance which the Township passed last

December.  It is also in conformance with the Township Code.  He stated they will seek

approval for a number of Waivers.  They are preserving all of the wetlands on the

property.  They are also preserving many of the other natural resources on the property. 

Mr. Tepper stated the community will have its own community center to serve the

residents of the community including an indoor and outdoor pool, bocce courts, tennis

courts, etc.  There will be a walking/bicycle path system that meanders throughout the

project.  They are preserving the landscaped area along Oxford Valley Road north of Tall

Pines Road.  They are also providing five acres of open space for passive recreation and

preserving the wetlands and wetlands buffer surrounding all of  the wetlands.  Mr. Tepper

stated the project is fiscally sound and will generate benefits to the Township and the

School District. 

 

Mr. Tepper stated all road improvements proposed will be developed and in place before

any residents take occupancy of the project.  At this point, they are only proposing the

residential; and they have not proposed any improvements yet for the office or retail. 

They will propose these when they have specific users interested in locating in this area.

 

Mr. Cylinder stated he feels this Plan is totally unacceptable and he would like to present

an alternative plan.  He stated he would like to do this before Matrix continues with its

engineering. He stated he also feels his alternate would be more beneficial to the

developer than what it is proposing.  He stated he is not just offering comments on

what the developer has proposed and instead is presenting an entirely different approach.

 

It was agreed that Mr. Burkett, the developer’s engineer, should first make his

presentation. 

 

Mr. Burkett stated the Plan being presented this evening was the Plan attached to the

Settlement Agreement.    Mr. Burkett stated there are two distinct parts of the site – south

of Big Oak Road where the townhouses are located and north of Big Oak Road where

they propose the condominium buildings and single-family residences.  He stated on the

north side of Big Oak Road there are approximately ten to eleven acres of wetlands in the

core of the site.  There were also woodlands which had been farmed twenty-five to thirty

years ago which are now growing into small trees.  There were also farm fields where

there were slowly permeable soils which do not drain well.  He stated on the south side of

Big Oak Road there was an area where there was no vegetation, was higher in elevation,

and the soils were better for infiltration.  He stated their strategy in developing the site

was to take the north side of the site and develop it into single-family houses; and take

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 14 of 27

 

the north side of Big Oak Road and develop it into condominiums which would have

ground floor parking and three levels of units above that parking.  This would minimize

the footprint for this type of housing unit.  He stated the townhouse units are conventional

townhouse units, and the single-family houses are similar to what is available currently in

the age-qualified bracket. 

 

Mr. Burkett stated through the center of the wetlands is a large sanitary interceptor

running through the site.  He stated it is the lowest part of the site and allowed them the

opportunity to connect in all the sanitary sewers through gravity mains.  He stated the

sewer line runs from the east side to the west side and runs underneath I-95.  With regard

to public water, they propose extending two existing lines in the area underneath Oxford

Valley Road throughout the project and loop it back on itself. 

 

Mr. Burkett discussed stormwater management noting they were asked in the Settlement

Agreement to use Low Impact Development (LID) components in the system, and they

have developed a Plan that meets all of the Township requirements for peak discharge,

infiltration, and water quality and also considers how they can use LID measures.  He

stated these have to do with getting water out of channelized roadways and into swales,

use of localized rainwater gardens, diverting water from rooftops into smaller perforated

pipes and trenches, etc.  He stated they also propose a number of detention basins, most

of which are wet ponds with wetland vegetation planted; but there are also situations such

as in the single-family area where there is perforated pipe network around each of the

houses which allows rooftop run-off to come off the roof, flow via grass or conveyed

directly to the storm system so that they are intercepting rainwater at the highest point in

the project and not waiting until it comes down and gets collected in pipes before getting

to a detention basin. 

 

Mr. Burkett stated they also considered the use of curbing and are recommending the use

of a 3” revealed curb rather than 6” thereby allowing water to be channelized to a certain

elevation; and then once it exceeds that elevation, it will flow over the curb and into grass

swales.  He stated there are also many roadways throughout the project where they do not

have any curbs.

 

Mr. Burkett stated they also discussed with the Township engineers the potential for

narrower roadway widths, and these narrower widths were incorporated into the

Township’s Ordinance for this type of development.  He stated they have come up with a

street network that provides accessibility for emergency and trash vehicles but also is not

such a wide street that they are generating more run off.  He stated they have 24’ wide

cartways throughout most of the project, and there are also some private driveways that

are 18’ wide.

 

Mr. Burkett stated a number of the Waivers being requested have to do with the fact that

this is a new concept of development in the Township.    Mr. Burkett provided this evening a revised list of the Waivers they are requesting. 

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 15 of 27

 

 

Mr. Burkett noted the Remington Vernick review letter dated 8/19/06.  He stated they

will comply with 95% of the comments; and where they will not comply, they are

requesting Waivers including those for roadway design, curbs, grading and drainage

issues. 

 

Mr. Burkett stated none of the improvements are being dedicated to the Township but

will be owned by the Homeowners Association.  Mr. Tepper stated none of roads will be

dedicated to the Township other than Big Oak Road and old Oxford Valley Road after

they are improved.

 

Ms. Friedman asked if this is a Conceptual Plan, and Mr. Tepper stated they have

provided Preliminary/Final Plans to the Township.  Ms. Friedman stated she was

surprised that there was so much detail, yet this is the first time the Planning Commission

has seen this proposal.  She stated she finds this particular concept very dense and

city-like.  She stated with the amount of space they had to work with, she would have

liked to have seen more of a Village concept particularly on the right side of the Plan. 

She stated she would have preferred clustering the homes and have more of an open

space feel.  She stated they could then integrate some retail to help support the homes. 

She noted particularly the Flowers Mill age-restricted housing development which works

well and involves very little traffic as most of the shopping the residents need is in the

development. 

 

Mr. Burkett stated in terms of impervious surface, the Ordinance permits 60%, and they

have less than 50%.  He stated this concept being shown is what evolved out of the

Settlement Agreement.  Ms. Friedman noted the Planning Commission was not part of

that process.  Ms. Friedman asked if they are including the area of wetlands when they

consider the percentages, and Mr. Burkett stated they included all of the gross area as

called for in the Ordinance. 

 

Mr. Bush noted part of the area shown in dark green on the Plan is in Middletown

Township and is not part of this Plan being presented but is capable of being developed. 

He stated he understands that the developer would like to have more age-restricted

housing in this area although he understands Middletown is not interested in age-

restricted housing in this area.  He understands that the developer has indicated they

would like to construct something compatible in this area, and asked what that would be.

 

Mr. Tepper stated there are 140 acres of land in Lower Makefield Township, and they are

proposing less than what could have been developed on the project as they could have

developed 600 homes, and they are proposing 522 units.   He stated they are currently in

discussion with Middletown as to how they can most appropriately develop the land in

Middletown.  There are 48 acres of land in Middletown Township.  Over the past twelve

to fifteen months they have met with an Advisory Board that Middletown Township

created to discuss how to best develop that property consistent with how they have

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 16 of 27

 

 

already agreed to develop the property in Lower Makefield and consistent with looking at

the project from a perspective of one community that is in two different Municipalities. 

He stated one result of working with the Advisory Board was a unanimous

recommendation by the Advisory Board that age-restricted residential would be the most

appropriate use for their land as well.  It has yet to be determined how the Township will

vote on this recommendation.  They will have a joint Advisory Board and Planning

Commission meeting on September 14, 2006 in Middletown when this will be discussed. 

He stated if age-qualified housing is not approved in Middletown, they will have to

consider their options, many of which he is not prepared to discuss this evening.  He

stated they have not spent any time since that unanimous recommendation was made

looking at any other uses than age-qualified except for the possibility of a Synagogue

which has expressed interest in locating a facility on a portion of the property, and they

are still assessing that option.  Mr. Dickson asked if this is the same Synagogue that is

interested in building off Village Road, and Mr. Tepper stated it is the Brothers of Israel.

 

Mr. Bush stated he feels overall people should recognize that this is a compromise plan

that took several years to work out which he feels is far superior to the Plan that was

approved by the Board of Supervisors several years ago eliminating big box retail and the

pollution, crime, and traffic that goes along with that use.  It is also revenue neutral as

compared to the prior Plan and does not add an additional drain to the School system. 

Mr. Bush asked about the restrictive easements on archeological sites and stated none of

them were mentioned on the Plan being shown but there were seven to eight in the

materials submitted.  He stated there was also a reference that some entity determined

that none of them were of any real significance.  He asked if this is a final determination;

and if so, should the easement be terminated.  Mr. Tepper noted the easement on the Plan

for an area that has certain potential artifacts that are not to be disturbed, and the easement preserves this area in perpetuity.  He stated the easement was given to the Heritage Conservancy in 2001.  He stated there were other areas that were considered of less importance as far as historical importance and archeological value throughout the

property; and they are not proposing development in any of those areas, but the only area

that the Heritage Conservancy felt needed to have a specific easement put in place was

the one area noted and this has been accommodated.  He stated it does not need to be

terminated because the importance still exists, and they do not want anyone to encroach

on that area which could happen if that easement was not in place.

 

Mr. Bush noted the Park & Recreation proposed easement with regard to a pavilion

which is part of the Settlement Agreement, and he asked why they did not deed over the

land to the Township.  Mr. Tepper stated they chose this option from the perspective that

they are not subdividing out every single parcel on the project as they are creating a

condominium for the entire project.  The land being noted by Mr. Bush will be provided

by an easement to the Township and will not have any less rights for how it is utilized

than would otherwise.  It is a five acre parcel and was negotiated.  It is an easement that

remains indefinitely as long as rules and regulations are followed.  He stated it is

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 17 of 27

 

 

available for passive recreation.  It will include a pavilion located on the property with

picnic benches, etc.  Mr. Garton asked if they would be opposed to a Fee Ownership to

the Township, and Mr. Brookman stated they would not be opposed to this. 

 

Ms. Friedman noted the condo concept with a parking lot on the bottom and three floors

above, and asked if this will result in a four-story building from the ground level up or is

the parking lot underground.  Mr. Tepper stated you will not see most of the parking

garage other than where it is accessed.  He stated it will look like a three-story building

although this does vary depending on the side of the building you are looking at.  He

stated there are height restrictions and number of story restrictions in the Ordinance with

which they need to comply.  They are not seeking any Variances for the projects which

would require going before the Zoning Hearing Board.

 

Ms. Friedman stated while she recognizes they are only looking at a picture, on the right

side there is a line of homes, and she asked the space between the homes.  Mr. Tepper

stated it is twenty feet noting the Ordinance does permit fifteen feet, but they felt that was

too close. 

 

Mr. Bush noted the historical easement referenced in the memo to Nancy Frick dated

7/17/06 on page 6 where they indicate nothing of historic significance was identified. 

He asked if they would be adverse to deeding over that parcel of land to the Township. 

Mr. Tepper asked if this is the same one for which the Heritage Conservancy has an

easement, and Mr. Bush agreed.  Mr. Tepper stated they would have to look at the

Heritage Conservancy easement to see if this would be possible. 

 

Mr. Bush stated in the Settlement Agreement it indicates Matrix is required to inquire of

PennDOT its position with regard to a traffic light at the intersection of Tall Pine and

Oxford Valley Roads, and Mr. Tepper stated this inquiry has not yet been made.  He stated depending on what PennDOT states, they will or will not put in the light. 

Mr. Garton stated he feels there was some concern on the part of the participants that this light not be put in unless it was absolutely necessary, and this was incorporated into the Agreement.  Mr. Tepper agreed and stated PennDOT was to make the decision whether this light was warranted.

 

Mr. Cylinder stated he recognizes that much time, effort, and money has been spent on

engineering details of the Preliminary/Final Plan that was submitted to the Planning

Commission without any Sketch Plan or preliminary conversation.  He stated as a

member of the Planning Commission, he does not feel they have to find this Plan

acceptable based upon a Settlement.  He stated this Plan contains highly detailed

engineering data, and while there are eighty-five pages of engineering there is almost no

land planning whatsoever.  He stated he does not feel there is any indication that they

understand what land planning is about.  He stated an alternative approach should be

considered, and he has prepared a sample alternative approach so that they can see what

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 18 of 27

 

 

ideas go into a Concept Plan.  Mr. Cylinder stated land planning can optimize a

development to the benefit of the community as a whole; and the Planning Commission is

representative of the community as a whole not only those present now, but those who

will reside here in the future.  He stated inadequate planning and presentation of the

rationale are obstacles to achieving this.  He stated a checklist of omissions and violations

is only a minor part of the review process.  He stated a review was made on behalf of the

Township showing 403 items.  He feels this suggests that there is something wrong with

the Plans as a general approach.  He stated the checklist does not cover items related to

the day-to-day interests of the Township or its future occupants.  He stated the details

being submitted today are items based on a Plan; but if the Plan is not acceptable, then

the details are meaningless.  He stated they need to define the principles and objectives

that form a coherent, physical design concept not in terms of where the sewer lines go,

but where people go and stated they must determine how this large piece of land fits in

with the rest of the Township and its neighbors including all of lower Bucks County.

Mr. Cylinder stated he hopes they will be able to come up with an understanding so that

the Township can say to the developer, that this is acceptable in its general sketch form

and then they can go about the details of making it work from an engineering standpoint.

 

Mr. Cylinder stated he was a professional planner for fifty years.  He showed a map of

the Lower Bucks County circulation pattern.  He noted the major roads in the area of the

project.  He stated this is a major windfall for anyone who has land in the area.  He noted

the location of the Matrix property on his plan.  He stated there are similar locations in

other areas of Bucks County, and he noted specifically the Neshaminy Mall area which is

the only other competition for a regional center in all of Lower Bucks County.  He

stated above the Matrix property, there is primarily a residential area and uses that relate

to the residential area.  He stated the Matrix land is a  transitional area.  He stated the

southern end of the property is bounded by US 1, I-95 and the Interchange and is a closed

Interchange.  He noted the portion of Middletown Township which has no relation to any

other part of Middletown Township which is a landlocked parcel except for Big Oak

Road. 

 

Mr. Cylinder showed the circulation pattern that has been proposed which he feels is a

maze and does not do anything.  He also showed a sketch of a circulation pattern he

would recommend which would parallel US 1 and I-95 and get away from the problem of

not being able to access the other sites in the area.  He stated he feels this should be a

residential community which would be related to Yardley Corners and not have it as part

of the mass of development of the regional center to the south.  He suggested running a

road to connect this development to Yardley Corners rather than having to go to the

intersection of Big Oak Road and Oxford Valley Road.  Mr. Santarsiero asked if this

would be a new road, and Mr. Cylinder stated it is an existing road in Yardley Corners

which is a wide road with no driveways coming off of it.   Mr. Santarsiero stated the

Matrix proposal does have their access road lining up with that road, and Mr. Cylinder

agreed.  Mr. Cylinder stated the maze that they have shown in Matrix would not allow the

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 19 of 27

 

 

people from Yardley Corners to go through in the other direction.  Mr. Santarsiero

questioned why they would want to do so, and Mr. Cylinder stated they could go through

Matrix without having to go to the intersection of Big Oak Road and Oxford Valley

Road.  He stated this would also free up that intersection.  Ms. Friedman asked if he is

indicating that they would not need as many improvements to the intersection, and

Mr. Cylinder stated this is not the point, rather he wants to make it more livable for

people. 

 

Mr. Cylinder showed a concept plan he prepared which would set up a new community

and include Yardley Corners.  He showed lower density homes which could be row

houses in two locations with a central square in each area.  He noted other areas which

would be for slightly higher density.  He feels these could be elevator apartments.  He

would also recommend stores.  A main street would be proposed and this would result in

a new Woodside Village.  He noted the location for the community center.  He also

showed the entrances to the community which should be identified in some way.  He

would propose three different Villages.  He also noted an area in the south that would be

a transitional area and relate to the regional center with uses other than big box retail but

would benefit from its location and get advertisement value.  He noted the boundary line

between Middletown and Lower Makefield and stated when they discuss the Middletown

property with Middletown, they should discuss it on a unified basis.

 

Mr. Cylinder noted areas on the site which are subject to environmental and legal

constraints due to the existence of the wetlands.  Mr. Cylinder noted the

commercial/office area which would help buffer the lower Village from sound,

odors, etc.

 

Mr. Cylinder stated he has prepared a report which explains his Plan.  He stated he has

presented a planning concept and not just a picture in which a lot of  engineering

expertise has been expended.

 

Mr. Pazdera stated he recognizes Mr. Cylinder’s concerns noting this is the second Plan

for the property that the Planning Commission has seen that was fully engineering but

into which the Planning Commission had no input.  He stated while this does concern

him, the Plan being presented by the developer this evening is significantly better than

the first Plan.  He stated he feels there are still many opportunities that could have been

explored to make it better, but the Planning Commission was not given the opportunity to

have input. 

 

Mr. Cylinder stated he got on the Planning Commission because of this project and

Edgewood which he feels will be more of a problem than this Plan.  He stated this tract

has a lot of potential and there is a lot of opportunity.  He feels they should be able to

develop this tract a lot more effectively and get more value out of the project than if they

proceed with what they are now presenting. 

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 20 of 27

 

 

Mr. Santarsiero stated they appreciate the amount of time and effort Mr. Cylinder put into

this project.  He stated it is important throughout the review process that they do not lose

perspective that this is a compromise.  He stated everyone knows the history of the site;

and the people who fought the proposal for the big box stores did so because of their

concern with traffic, crime, and because it was not in keeping with the character of Lower

Makefield.  He stated when the opportunity arose to try to compromise, they took in good

faith the steps to try to do this.  He stated initially RAM and then the Township got

involved in the process that resulted in the compromise.  He stated while the specifics of

the Plan have not been made available to anyone until now, the general concept was

presented two years ago at a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors when the Matrix

representative presented a Sketch Plan.  He stated there was ample opportunity at that

point for comment, and he noted Mr. Cylinder did attend that meeting and made

comments.  Mr. Santarsiero stated while there are others things that many of them would

have liked to see on the site, and while many would have preferred that the site remain as

it is, he feels they recognize that given the rights of the property owner, this was not

realistic.  Given this, they wanted to see what they could do to minimize the impact of

whatever would go on the property, and they have come up with this concept.  He stated

he feels this is one hundred times better than what was approved by the previous Board of

Supervisors.  He stated he feels improvements can still be made through the review

process; but he feels the Planning Commission, Supervisors, and the public should

recognize that it is the product of compromise. 

 

Mr. Tepper stated it is obvious that Mr. Cylinder has put a lot of effort into his Plan.  He

stated the developer has also spent a significant amount of time working to create a Plan

that does as much as can be accomplished for all of those involved in the project.  He

stated there were a number of concept sketches which were reviewed as part of the

settlement of the litigation, and they considered many alternative ways of looking at the

project.  Mr. Cylinder asked why this was not brought before the Planning Commission

and whose job it was to review the plans.  Mr. Garton stated the ultimate responsibility

rests with the Board of Supervisors as they have the ultimate authority.  Mr. Santarsiero

stated they did have a special meeting to review the original Sketch Plan two years ago;

and any member of the public, including the members of the Planning Commission,

could have been present to make comment.  He stated they have also had a number of

very public discussions about the parameters of the Concept Plan.  He stated the specific

engineering has not been seen by anyone until July when the Plans were submitted to the

Township; but for two years everyone has generally known what they were looking for

which was essentially three types of age-restricted housing, and this is essentially what

they are showing.  He stated the engineering and lay-out may be slightly different than

the original Sketch Plan; and there are fewer units than they were permitted to construct,

but no one should feel that this Plan is just now coming before the public as it has been

on the table for over two years.

 

 

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 21 of 27

 

 

Mr. Tepper stated considerable time and effort was put into making the overall Plan

submitted so that it was very similar to the Concept Plan which was submitted two years

ago.  He stated when you go through detailed engineering of the Plans, you learn more

about the site which impacts where certain things can be located; but the integrity of the

Plan is intact. 

 

Mr. Dickson noted the review letter from PennDOT where they recommend a Traffic

Impact Study be completed, and asked if the developer will follow through with this. 

Mr. Tepper stated the letter from PennDOT was written inadvertently as the individual

who wrote that letter did not know that Highway Occupancy Permits had already been

issued for the project and the Traffic Impact Study had already been accomplished.  He

stated they have since communicated with PennDOT about this, and PennDOT has since

realized their error and acknowledged that the review they had requested was not

warranted given the amount of study and level of improvements to be installed.

Mr. Garton stated they did receive an e-mail from PennDOT noting that the two people

involved previously on the project had retired and did not pass on the information to the

new reviewers, and PennDOT has since withdrawn their comments.

 

Ms. Friedman stated she is in support of age-restricted housing and feels this is a

favorable use for the property.  She stated she does feel that for future uses of the

property thirty to forty years from now, a slightly more diverse use of the property in

some areas might be beneficial.  She noted the possibility of office, retail, or a Synagogue

or other Church.  She also stated the Plan being presented seems to be already in place

and any comments she might make are moot since they have she is now being told that

any comments she may have should have been made two years ago.

 

Mr. Santarsiero stated the question initially was whether anyone on the Planning

Commission had any input into the concept, and his response was that everyone had input

when it was presented two years ago.  He stated the Settlement Agreement entered into

with Matrix and RAM envisioned the ordinary review process that any Developer goes

through.  He stated they are following the process any developer goes through by coming

in with an engineered Plan and presenting it to the Planning Commission.  He stated in

this case, they have also had a Concept Plan to which they have all had the opportunity to

speak.  He stated if people had indicated two years ago that the idea of having

age-restricted housing was not acceptable, then he as a Board member would have been

willing to listen to this; and this would have been integrated into the Settlement

discussions.  He stated the Settlement discussions were based on the Concept being

presented and on trying to refine how the process would work.  He stated they also

considered what would be protected such as the tree line across Oxford Valley Road,

what open space would be deeded over to the Township, what improvements would be

made to the roads, etc.  He stated the general concept was laid out two years ago; and if

someone had a problem with the Concept at that point, that was the time to speak about

it.  He stated in terms of what is being presented this evening – the engineering – it is

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 22 of 27

 

appropriate for the Planning Commission to make comments.  He stated the Planning

Commission’s responsibility is no different in this case than it is with any other

development.  He stated his only point was the concept was on the table for two years.

 

Ms. Friedman stated two years ago she did not have the planning and development

knowledge she now has.  In addition, the material is now in front of her; and while she

wants to make her comments as a volunteer for the community, she is getting the

impression that there will be no revisions made.  Mr. Santarsiero stated his comments

were not to prejudice the Planning Commission’s review, but to indicate that in their

review, they should keep in mind that while it is not a perfect proposal, they should

remember that this is a result of negotiation and compromise over a long period of time. 

He stated when the Board of Supervisors meets, they will take the advice of the Planning

Commission under consideration.

 

Mr. Cylinder stated what they saw two years ago was this drawing, and there was no way

to analyze this because it was just a picture.  He stated there was no analysis or

information about the underlying soils or topography.   He stated it was not until the

July 24, 2006 meeting that the Planning Commission was handed the packet of information on the way out of the meeting.  He stated he could not have made the kind of analysis he did without the basic information that was contained in this additional information. He stated he also feels all the Plans he was provided were useless because he needed to find out the basic information the developer used to develop the scheme they prepared.   He asked if the Planning Commission is being asked to review all 403 items the Township engineer has noted and indicate if they approve of them or want to make changes.

 

Mr. Santarsiero stated given the size and the history of the project, he feels they will need

to schedule a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors to deal with this project; and he

will discuss this with the other Board members.  He stated he does not feel the Planning

Commission will be able to make a decision on this Plan this evening given the late hour. 

He also stated the Environmental Advisory Council is now a review board, and they will

review this Plan on September 13.  He stated the Planning Commission may decide they

need to have a special meeting on this matter as well to afford them a greater opportunity

to review everything that is in front of them and to go through each point in detail and put

their input in to the greatest extent possible.

 

Mr. Pazdera stated he has been on the Planning Commission for approximately twelve

years, and this is the third or fourth time he has felt like they are getting it the project

“rammed down their throat.”  He stated he would have liked to see the Board of

Supervisors come to them informally before they get to all the engineering to get some

ideas on the table.  Mr. Santarsiero stated all they were working with was the Concept

Plan and they only got the engineering the same time the Planning Commission did.  He

stated what they had in terms of the Settlement discussion, was a Concept Plan.  He

stated the only input that anyone had was at the public meeting two years ago; and to the

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 23 of 27

 

extent that there could have been meaningful input into the Settlement discussions, it

would have been with respect to the overall concept and not with respect to the

engineering.  He stated Matrix also agreed that they would try to make this as LID

compatible as possible recognizing that these requirements were not yet in place.

Mr. Pazdera stated even with the Concept Plan, he feels if the Planning Commission

could have had a chance to sit down with them for even one hour, there could have been

different ideas.  He noted this was also the case with the big-box Plan which was

presented to the Planning Commission fully-engineered.  He stated the Planning

Commission did ultimately vote against that Plan.  Mr. Pazdera stated in the future he

would like the Board of Supervisors to use the Planning Commission as a resource in

similar situations.  Mr. Santarsiero stated unlike that previous Plan, the Board of

Supervisors did have a special meeting two year ago on the Concept Plan where there

was a roomful of people in attendance, and the general reaction was not averse to the

Concept Plan.  He stated it was with that guidance that they went forward to proceed with

the details of the legal agreement, recognizing they would proceed with the engineering

after that point. 

 

Mr. Cylinder stated the Plan he proposed would allow the developer to phase much more

readily than what the developer is now showing.  He stated they could also develop a

wider variety of uses and sell off pieces as they get a market for it.  He stated there could

also be a variety of housing compared to what they are now proposing.  He stated in his

Plan he has it set up in such a way that they could put in housing on blocks of 60,000

square feet and make row houses, twins, singles, etc. by slicing up the blocks.  He stated

they could run the front of the houses along the short axis and run 150 foot deep lots and

put the garages in the rear or run an alley in the back as they are discussing in the “New-

Age” planning.  He stated he feels his plan has much more flexibility. 

 

Ms. Frick reminded the Planning Commission that they only have sixty days in which to

review the Plans.  She stated she put the matter on the Agenda this evening despite the

fact that all the review had not yet been received because of the time limitation.  She

stated the developer has already met with the Township engineer and indicated that many

of the items in the Township engineer’s review letter are “will comply,” and they are

already in the process of revising the Plans.  She agreed that they should consider a

special meeting but noted they must consider the time constraints since it expires on

September 25, and the Board of Supervisors meets on September 20 so any special

meeting would have to be prior to that time.  Mr. Garton stated the developer has an

obligation to fix the Plans in accordance with the comments received from the Township

engineer and the Township has a certain time limit thereafter to do the approval. 

Mr. Geoffrey Goll stated the EAC is meeting on this matter on September 13, and

Mr. Garton stated that date is before the Board of Supervisors will discuss the Plan.

 

Mr. Bush noted the five acre parcel which will have an easement to the Township on

which the pavilion will be located.  He asked what they will do to the five acres so it does

not look like it is only part of the development but rather is open to the public.

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 24 of 27

 

 

Mr. Tepper stated at this time they were only anticipating locating the pavilion and picnic

benches on the property and allowing the Township to determine where on old Oxford

Valley Road they wish to have access to it.  He stated it would be up to the Township to

determine how they want to further improve the property.  Mr. Bush asked that they

consider deeding it over to the Township as opposed to having an easement so that the

Township would have more flexibility.  Mr. Garton stated the Settlement Agreement does

not dictate that there be an easement; but only that it be set aside as open space; and the

developer has indicated they would be willing to make it a Fee Simple interest as part of

the process which he feels makes sense.

 

Ms. Marilyn Levivitz stated she has resided in Lower Makefield for thirty-three years and

she hopes that nothing will happen that will result in this not becoming age-restricted

housing.   She stated she lives on Countess Drive in a large home which is becoming too

much for her, but she would like to remain in Lower Makefield.  She stated she agrees

with Ms. Friedman and hopes there is a way to make this more like a Village rather than

a development.  She stated she does not feel they should have a road that attracts people

from Yardley Corners to come through this new development. 

 

Ms. Marilyn Huret stated she has lived in Lower Makefield for thirty years.  She stated

she has visited the Matrix developments in South Jersey and was very impressed.  She

stated the Township Ordinance being considered indicates that a fireworks place could be

put in the C-3 Zoning District.  She stated she also reviewed other uses which could be

put in the C-3 Zone.   She stated she feels people who purchase these homes will not

want to be adjacent to some of the uses which are permitted in the C-3 zone and she

would like to be assured that it will be Residential or light Commercial.  Mr. Santarsiero

stated the Ordinance that has been advertised is to limit the fireworks use to within a

certain number of feet of certain structures.  Mr. Santarsiero stated they could designate

areas of the site as a Park or could lengthen the land restriction.  He stated with the

Ordinance they are proposing, they are trying to stop what Ms. Huret is describing. 

Ms. Huret stated according to the Solicitor, the Township has to create a place where a

fireworks operation could be located, and the Ordinance that was to be advertised

indicated it could be put in the C-3 District, south of Matrix, north of Route 1, east

of I-95.

 

Ms. Helen Heinz representing the Historic Commission stated they are very concerned

about the site of the Octagon School House.  She asked the developer if they own this

parcel of land, and Mr. Tepper stated they do not.  Ms. Heinz stated the Plan shows a new

lane of traffic directly along the western side of Oxford Valley Road, and Mr. Tepper

stated there are improvements on Oxford Valley Road.  Ms. Heinz asked if it is their

intention that the Township will condemn the land, and Mr. Tepper stated the

improvements can be put in the existing right-of-way.  Ms. Heinz asked if they are aware

that this may trigger an archeological assessment of the site since the well to the

Octagonal School House is in this area, and Mr. Tepper stated he will discuss this with

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 25 of 27

 

 

the engineer.  Ms. Heinz stated the Historic Commission would like the Planning

Commission to take the appropriate steps so that the entire roadway is moved south of the

site.  Mr. Garton stated the Township has already acquired by eminent domain the

frontage of a piece of property in the area fifteen years ago.  Ms. Heinz asked if there is a

way to shift old Oxford Valley Road south so that they can preserve the site as much as

possible.  Mr. Tepper stated the proposed improvements do not encroach upon the

Weiner property. 

 

Mr. Zachary Rubin stated he has seen the Concept Plan for almost two years and

personally made comments on it at three public meetings.  He stated he takes exception to

members of the Planning Commission stating this Plan has been “dumped on their lap out

of nowhere.”  He stated there was ample time to comment on this.  He stated a criticism

of the previous Board of Supervisors was that these plans never went in front of the

Planning Commission, and now they are in front of the Planning Commission.  He feels

the Planning Commission should review the Plans and make a recommendation to the

Board of Supervisors.  Mr. Rubin asked the definition of the term, “hammerhead,” and

Mr. Tepper stated it is similar to a “T” intersection to get to the driveway.  Mr. Rubin

also noted the location of the Clubhouse, and stated it appears that almost two thirds of

the residents will have to use Big Oak Road, which is a heavily-traveled road, to access

the Clubhouse.  He asked if traffic lights are proposed for the intersections with Big Oak

Road.  Mr. Tepper stated the traffic improvements which are on the Plan are consistent

with the improvements that were negotiated as part of the Settlement Agreement.  He

stated there is a traffic signal at the intersection of Big Oak Road and Oxford Valley

Road and one proposed, subject to approval by PennDOT, at the intersection of Tall

Pines and Oxford Valley Roads.  Mr. Rubin stated it does not appear that there is one

proposed at Big Oak Road that goes through the development, and Mr. Tepper agreed. 

Ms. Pam Conti, Orth-Rodgers, stated they did a traffic signal warrant analysis to

determine if a traffic signal was necessary on Big Oak Road, and it was found, based on

the traffic volumes, that they did not meet the warrants.

 

Mr. Goll asked who will be coming to the EAC meeting to make their presentation, and

Mr. Tepper stated he will be coming with Mr. Brookman and their engineer.  Mr. Goll

asked if the Township solicitor will attend that meeting as well as he has hundreds of

questions, many of which will need legal interpretation.  Mr. Santarsiero stated he will

discuss this with the other Supervisors at their next meeting.  Mr. Goll stated he has

analyzed the Plans submitted in depth, and he feels Matrix needs to better run through the

Plans with the Planning Commission.  He stated on the north side of the tract there is a

1650 foot long, ten to twelve foot high retaining wall being proposed.  He asked if they

need a Variance for this.  He stated they have also left out steep slopes on the natural

resources map, so he is not sure that they do not need Variances.  He stated he also feels

they left out a lot of water courses, and they will discuss these items at the EAC meeting.

He stated he feels they need to also discuss the amount of earth moving that is going to be

created to make this site work.  He stated he feels they need to prepare in cross-section

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 26 of 27

 

 

what the site will look like, and he feels they need to come back at a special meeting to

present this.  He invited everyone to attend the EAC meeting as well.

 

Mr. Bob Halpern stated he has resided in the Township for thirty-five years.  He asked

about access to the Clubhouse, and Mr. Tepper stated you can travel within the

community to access the Clubhouse. They will not be crossing the wetlands. 

Mr. Halpern  noted the location of the condos and asked about the need for elevators

because they are dealing with an older population.  Mr. Tepper stated they do anticipate

elevators in the condos but not in the townhouses.  Mr. Halpern asked if it will be a gated

community, and Mr. Tepper stated no gates are proposed.

 

Ms. Sally Dryfus, Yardley Commons, stated a representative of Matrix had met with the

Board of  Directors of Yardley Commons, and Mr. Taylor of the Board of Directors

indicated that Matrix promised a berm/buffer over to Yardley Corners.  Mr. Tepper

showed the berm on the Plan.  Ms. Dryfus stated the residents of Yardley Corners do not

want people coming through their development on Mt. Pleasant.  She noted Mr. Taylor

indicated they were told that the developer would make the street coming out to be a right

or left only, and Mr. Tepper stated this is what is proposed.  Ms. Dryfus stated Mr. Taylor

had also asked about the possibility of a light as they feel it will be impossible for those

coming out of Yardley Corners to be able to make a left hand turn with the additional

traffic.  Mr. Tepper stated the Highway Occupancy Permit they received from PennDOT

a few years ago has a signal approved at that intersection; however, as part of subsequent

discussions that ensued as part of the Settlement, the developer agreed to discuss whether

the Warrants exist to keep that signal as proposed, and they have not yet done this. 

 

Ms. Dryfus stated Yardley Corners feels strongly about having this signal so that they can

get out at this location; and Mr. Tepper stated he feels Yardley Corners could write to

PennDOT or meet with them, as the developer’s effort will be more technical in nature.

There was further discussion on the berm, and Mr. Tepper stated there is a tree line in

certain locations and in some areas there are not trees.  Ms. Dryfus noted a location of the

berm which impacts Yardley Corners, and asked if there will be trees in that location, and

Mr. Tepper stated it varies. 

 

Mr. Garton stated he understands that the Planning Commission will fix a special meeting

to further consider the Plan.  Mr. Brookman asked if the special meeting will include

other Township Boards, and Ms. Frick stated it will be a Planning Commission Special

Meeting although the public and other Township Board members can attend. 

Mr. Brookman stated they understand that the purpose of that meeting will be to respond

to outstanding items in the comments letter noting that the Applicant has already

indicated that they will comply with 90% of the Township engineer’s comments.

Mr. Bush stated he feels they should also be prepared to respond to comments that were

made this evening.  Ms. Frick stated additional reviewing agencies may  have submitted

their comments by that time as well. 

August 28, 2006                                                         Planning Commission – page 27 of 27

 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Mr. Pazdera noted the Community Pride Day will be held on Labor Day and asked who

from the Planning Commission would be available to man the table they will set up.

Mr. Bush stated he felt what the Planning Commission was doing was overlapping with

what the EAC was doing; and if the EAC is  already manning a table, possibly the

Planning Commission should coordinate with them.  Mr. Pazdera stated Mr. Majewski

indicated that the Bucks County Planning Commission has a display on impervious

surface, and this will be on the Planning Commission table.  Mr. Pazdera stated he would

be willing to set up the display and be at the table from Noon to 2 p.m., Mr. Bush will be

there from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Mr. Dickson will be there from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

 

 

There being no further business, Mr. Dickson moved, Mr. Bush seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 11:30 p.m.

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

 

                                                                        Tony Bush, Secretary